Courts dismissal of Cermaq Canada’s injunction reveals disappointing disconnect between DFO process, Minister Jordan, Canadian carbon targets and DFO’s own science
Campbell River, BC – On Friday, July 2, Cermaq Canada received the courts decision to dismiss the injunction it had filed in hopes to be able to complete one last transfer mature smolts (juvenile Atlantic salmon) to its Brent Island and Venture Point farms. While Cermaq Canada is disappointed in the decision, it was the discoveries made during the injunction process, which were not previously available to Cermaq or the Wei Wai Kum Nation, which were so disheartening for both organizations.
“As an organization, we are perplexed by the decision from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Minister Bernadette Jordan as salmon farming itself is in support of so many of both her, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s goals for the country – from supporting wild salmon, to the creation of a strong Blue Economy, creating food security, furthering reconciliation, and helping Canada reach it carbon targets. We know that farm-raised salmon can help support all of those efforts,” says Cermaq Canada Managing Director David Kiemele. “We are also surprised to see that the Minister has ignored her departments advice in favour of what we can only assume is a politically driven agenda. Her recent decision to revoke 60 per cent of commercial fishing licenses in BC – again blindsiding the commercial fishers in their own words – shows her lack of understanding of rural coastal communities, First Nations rights and the reconciliation process, and the role that all seafood needs to play in order to support a growing global population.”
Leading up to this point, Cermaq Canada had been working with the Wei Wai Kum Nation – in whose territory both the farms are located. In April, the Wei Wai Kum Council voted unanimously to support an agreement between the Nation and Cermaq. The agreement would have allowed for shared wild salmon conservation initiatives, an economic transition, capacity building, the creation of a Guardian program (Nation oversight of Cermaq’s operations in its territory), and knowledge sharing.
“We are perplexed as to why we find ourselves in this position. Both the Nation and Cermaq have been working hard to find middle ground and offer solutions to Minister Jordan which would not only support her plan to develop a Blue Economy and support wild salmon, but also support the overall Liberal governments commitment to truth and reconciliation in Canada,” says Cermaq Canada Sustainable Development Director Linda Sams. “In the coming days we will be looking to further understand the decision as well as reaching out to the Wei Wai Kum Nation to determine how we can support them. Overall, this is a sad day for us as an organization, for our employees and the local communities who rely on local industry such as salmon farming. It is also a blow to First Nations and their struggle to assert self-determination and to have their rights recognized within their own territories.”
Documents obtained through the court process show that DFO staff reviewed Cermaq’s request for two final Introduction and Transfer permits, and based on existing criteria and DFO’s own science, research and opinion, recommended that Minister Jordan approve the applications. Minister Jordan ignored this recommendation.
“Initially, we had believed that the Liberal government of Canada was one which built on the principals of inclusivity and was led by a belief and trust in Canadian-led research and science, as well as fundamental support for further truth and reconciliation in Canada. From where we stand today, it appears that the decisions coming from both Ottawa and Nova Scotia are not in fact supportive of these positions but are instead aimed at securing urban Liberal votes. Once again, a hardworking sector is blindsided and deemed unimportant in the face of an upcoming election,” added Kiemele. “The inability of Minister Jordan to provide an adequate statement as to why she has denied our requests, to us, points to motives outside of science and social license and likely towards securing urban votes as we head into an anticipated late-summer election.”
These documents are available as they are part of the official court record. Included with this media release is the internal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), in which senior DFO leaders recommended that Minister Jordan approve the Introduction and Transfer permit and approve the requested extension. The document can be found here.
This decision will have long-reaching social and financial implications for employees, North Vancouver Island’s small rural economy and dozens of local, independent suppliers, contractors, businesses, and service providers. Cermaq will continue to work with the Wei Wai Kum Nation through a reconciliation process.
Cermaq Canada media contact:
Amy Jonsson, Communications and Engagement Manager